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Monday, May 21, 2012
Mama Na Watoto (Mother and Children)
Today I went into the Gombe National Park forest in hopes of finding a mother-infant chimpanzee pair. One of our research focuses is the health and development of young chimpanzees. We use new data currently being collected as well as archival data going all the way back to the 1970s.
Luckily enough, shortly after we began hiking we found a mother named Golden with her new baby. Golden was just a 3-month-old infant when I first came to Gombe in 1998. She was one-half of a pair of twins, which are extremely rare in the wild. In fact, Golden and her sister, Glitter, are one of the only pairs of twins known to survive to adulthood; managing two small babies seems to be too difficult a feat for most chimpanzee mothers.
However, Golden and her twin are healthy adults, and Golden is now a mother herself. It’s a bit overwhelming for me to realize that the babies I studied are now having babies of their own—I am studying the next generation now.
Tomorrow, we will go looking for another mother-infant pair, Eliza and Eriki. More soon!
Elizabeth Lonsdorf, Ph.D., is director of Lincoln Park Zoo’s Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes.
Gombe Field Diaries
Lincoln Park Zoo is partnering with the Jane Goodall Institute to study and conserve chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park, the site of Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking research. Our Gombe field diaries feature updates as scientists monitor chimpanzee health, study ape behavior and experience life in Gombe.
As director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes, Lonsdorf leads Lincoln Park Zoo efforts in Gombe National Park.
Rachel Santymire, Ph.D.
An endocrinologist in the Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, Santymire studies stress and reproduction in Gombe's chipmanzees.
A graduate student in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago, Matt is studying how levels of play in Gombe¹s chimpanzees influence stress, development and reproductive success.
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